Agencies Still Drowning in Pieces of Paper

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)

I was surprised to learn that more than 90% of information sharing outside of home care agencies still takes place by fax, according to an informal McKesson user survey. The second most-common way to share information is mailed or hand-delivered paper documents, used by 65% of agencies.

Emerging technologies such as secure direct messaging, physician portals and health information exchanges (HIEs) haven’t gained the popularity of physical documents, although nearly 60% of agencies use secure email. Because agencies communicate with partners in a variety of ways, figures don’t equal 100%.

With the current focus on care collaboration, providers must find new ways to share information electronically on a common platform so they spend more time caring for patients and less time handling, sorting and filing pieces of paper.

During the recent McKesson Homecare & Hospice National Users’ Conference, Tim Spiess, business analyst, and Rachael Feeback, customer advocate, explained the use of McKesson Home Health Connect™ and McKesson Hospice Connect™ solutions, which offer HIE and secure direct messaging capabilities. Both solutions support the secure exchange of key clinical information through a Continuity of Care Document (CCD).

Sharing documents through an HIE is close to real time and provides a central repository where subscribers know where to go to receive the latest copy of a CCD or other patient information. When using the RelayClinical HIE platform, Connect allows agencies to offer their own branded personal health records for patients and their families. Users can decide what information to share or not share among providers.

Spiess compares HIEs to public libraries, with a central place to find information but requiring a revenue stream to keep it going. Consequently, many agencies are not in areas where HIEs are available.

However, Connect also includes a direct messaging feature that allows agencies to send and receive information in a HIPAA-secure method, unlike regular secure email, which means that CCDs and other data can be sent to providers not connected to an HIE. Unlike secure email, providers who have a direct account must validate that they are legally authorized to access PHI. Think about getting lab results electronically or sending wound images to a patient’s doctor. Any way you use secure email you can use direct messaging, with the advantage of not having to worry about HIPAA issues.

Also unlike secure email, direct messaging allows home care agencies to contribute to hospitals and physician offices that are striving to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements that 10% of care transitions documentation be sent electronically.

Overall, Connect provides an efficient way for providers to communicate – either through an HIE or through secure direct messaging.

To learn more about HIEs and the future of homecare, download this e-book and begin improving your organizational performance.

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